Self-Publisher’s Quick Guide to Copyright: A Report

by Joel Friedlander on May 7, 2010 · 7 comments

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Back when I started this blog I really didn’t know what information would prove to be most useful to today’s self-publishers, or what would be the most popular.

A couple of months in, once I had paused long enough to figure out Google’s Analytics program and dig into the numbers a bit, I was pretty surprised at what I found:

An article I had written on what should be on your book’s copyright page was the most popular page on my blog. Copyright? In the 1990s Jill and I had run our own publishing company, and I had gotten used to dealing with copyright issues. With a few exceptions, copyright wasn’t a very interesting topic. You filed the papers, paid the fee and printed the notice. That was about it.

So why were so many people visiting this simple blog post? Uncertainty.

Confronting the Copyright Myths

I say uncertaintly because I soon realized that there are a lot of myths, uncertainties, untruths and fantasies that writers have about copyright. But it’s not really about copyright, it’s about their own relationship with the material they’ve created.

Writing a book is no small achievement. And by a book, I mean a long work that is sufficiently developed to hold together as a complete work, not just an assembly of individual parts. A persistent fear that authors have expressed to me is that someone will “steal” their ideas, make off with all the work, effort and dedication they’ve poured into their book.

On the other side, there were an equal number of misconceptions about how you could use other people’s work, especially works you find on the internet. The whole concept of fair use was wildly misinterpreted to mean “the use I’m making of it” and not much else.

So I started writing articles about copyright, the copyright page, copyright myths, how to copyright. I was fortunate to enlist David Amkraut, an intellectual property lawyer, to write an article clearing up the misconceptions about fair use, and to answer people’s questions that arose from the article.

Copyright Articles Conveniently Together

I’ve gathered all these articles together and created a report you can download. I call it the Self-Publisher’s Quick Guide to Copyright. Here’s what’s in it:

  • Self-Publishing Basics: A 5-Minute Guide to Copyright—What copyright is, and what it isn’t
  • Self-Publishing Basics: The Copyright Page—What should be on your copyright page
  • What Every Writer Ought to Know about Fair Use and Copyright—How to understand and make use of fair use provisions
  • Top 10 Myths, Lies and Misinformation about Copyright—Mistakes, misconceptions and myths about copyright
  • Copyright Page Samples You Can Copy and Paste Into Your Book—A long and a short copyright page to drop into your book
  • How to Copyright Your Book—How to go about registering your copyright

New: The Book Designer Newsletter

Now I’m giving this 27-page report away. And I’m giving it away so that I can give even more stuff away, in my new newsletter:

thebookdesigner.com newsletter self-publishing book design

The newsletter will be a regular source of articles that don’t make it to the blog, follow ups on articles that have already appeared, tips and links I find in my travels through the indie publishing world. I’ll make sure subscribers also get an early look at new projects still in the works.

It’s fun, it’s friendly, and it’s free. What could be better?

Action Item:

  1. Go up to the blue signup box in the top right of the blog.
  2. Put in your name and email address if you haven’t signed up yet.
  3. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm that you really, really want to subscribe. After all, we’re not giving this to just anyone.
  4. Click the link in the email and you’ll soon receive another email with the link to download the copyright report.

Remember: every issue of the newsletter will come with an “unsubscribe” link. I encourage you to use it if you don’t find the newsletter is a good fit for your interests.

In fact, I think you should unsubscribe from as many things as you can that don’t bring real value into your life. We just don’t have time for stuff that doesn’t make us excited or passionate about what we’re doing, or doesn’t teach us how to do something we need to learn.

But first you have to try it to find out. And if you don’t like it, let me know why. The first issue of the newsletter will be out later this month, so make sure you don’t miss it. And thanks for reading.

Takeaway: A free 27-page report on copyright, and a free newsletter full of helpful stuff. Does it get any better than that?

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    { 5 comments… read them below or add one }

    Ola Mapaderun October 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Resourceful. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 7, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Richard, thanks. Too much time on my hands, I guess. Thanks for visiting!

    Reply

    Richard Graham May 7, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Great Stuff. How you do it every day is amazing. Keep those posts coming.

    Richard

    Reply

    betty ming liu May 7, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Hey Joel, I just subscribed to your newsletter because I would love to get a look at what you’re up to (even though I’m nowhere near ready to publish a book). Thanks for the offer! ~Betty.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 7, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Thanks, Betty. I’m really looking forward to rolling the newsletter out the door later this month.

    Reply

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